Centre for Critical Heritage Studies


CCHS Seminar series with James Baker

15 May 2019, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Digital Research in the Humanities Grants scheme British Academy

Curatorial labour, voice, and legacy: Mary Dorothy George, descriptions of art objects, and the making of the 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires'

Event Information

Open to





Cecile Bremont – Centre for Critical Heritage Studies


Room 101
16-18 Gordon square
United Kingdom

Between 1930 and 1954 the social historian Mary Dorothy George created a monumental piece of scholarship covering seven published volumes of more than 7,000 pages, 12,500 catalogue entires, 1.5 million words. Working at the British Museum before, during, and in the aftermath of war, her deep entanglement with satirical prints during this time changed the course of her career. It also created a profound legacy. For the extent and depth of her work has made George's descriptions a constant interlocutor between the historian and this remarkable era of graphic reproduction. This talk describes the making of the Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum form the perspective of curatorial labour. It uses this lens to consider the curatorial 'voice' of Mary Dorothy George - the structure of her prose, its absences and emphases - that emerges from corpus linguistic analysis of her descriptions of art objects.
This talk is based on the project 'Curatorial Voice: legacy descriptions of art objects and their contemporary uses', funded under the British Academy Digital Research in the Humanities Grants scheme.

Open to all and refreshments will be served, courtesy of  UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies.


Digital Research in the Humanities Grants

Curatorial Voice: legacy descriptions of art objects and their contemporary uses

About the Speaker

James Baker

Senior Lecturer in Digital History and Archives at University of Sussex

James is an expert in the authority of the digital record, historical interactions with information technologies, and the history of the printed image. His research is funded by the European Commission, Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy, and British Council.
Prior to joining Sussex, James held the position of Digital Curator at the British Library. He is a fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute and the Royal Historical Society, a member of The Programming Historian Editorial Board, and a committee member of the Archives and Records Association (UK) Section for Archives and Technology.


More about James Baker